Technically it is Spring but it doesn’t feel quite warm enough just yet, or look quite green enough just yet. Although there are a few hardy crocuses coming up at Sally’s, and the lilacs at the old schoolhouse have tiny buds, I do believe most of us are tired of winter by this point.
But things are shifting into the new season at the Historical Village. The Rendezvous Days celebration is scheduled the end of April which means on April 30th the Historical Village will be filled with vendors and people, the museum buildings will be open, and the Friends of the Library will be having their book sale in the back of the community building there.
The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is set for August 6th – and you know what an amazing event that is as the Historical Village fills up with hundreds of quilts. Even Shakespeare in the Parks is already on our calendar, when they perform “Twelfth Night” on August 18th in the Village.
Of course a lot will surely happen before mid August! The museum officially opens for the summer on May 29th which means every day until September, the buildings will be open at the Historical Village from 1:00 – 5:00pm. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers will be on hand daily to answer questions, point out things of interest, and suggest places to get a good dinner in town. Oh – and the museum in the Fewkes Store building will have delightful things on sale including pine needle baskets, handmade quilts, books by local authors, postcards, and much more.
We are all looking forward to Spring and spending more time outside. And as we wait for the temperature to go up a bit more, you can stop by the old schoolhouse any Friday until mid May to visit the quilters and see the handmade items for sale. We have some amazing quilts we finished this year that you might just need to purchase for a wedding gift or to spruce up your own home as you get ready for Spring.
As with any large endeavor, it takes many hands to do all that needs to get done. And that is certainly the case at the Historical Village. Five acres, eleven buildings, archives to maintain, bills to pay, questions to answer about the Tobacco Valley’s history, funds to raise. And yes, this has all been going on since the mid 1970s!! On a gray early-winter’s day, if you happen to be driving pass the Village, or ambling through on your way to the River Walk, it might look quiet and serene there. It might look like nothing much is happening. But typically, not a day goes by that someone in our community isn’t putting in volunteer time to help maintain this special place.
Robin and Dave keep the Village looking sharp, repairing things that break, gathering up trash, trouble-shooting. That tree limb over the First Cabin is causing a problem with the roof, so they get the tree trimmed, patch the roof. Someone donates a cherry pitter that has been in her family for years. The Tobacco Valley Board of History acquisition committee gets all the information about it’s history, fills in paperwork, takes photos, enters the data into our archival records that are meticulously maintained by Cathy, and then puts the pitter into the museum where it will be on display next summer. Jane, our new treasurer, heard the quilters would dearly love to have a light in the storage closet where fabric is kept. They typically would go in with a flashlight to search for a piece of flannel to make a baby quilt or whatever the latest project was. It happened that Steve, Jane’s husband, is an electrician. The next week when the women arrived to quilt, there was a light with a motion detector in the closet! And a light bright enough that we can all see which boxes contain the baby flannels and which are the cottons with holiday motifs (as it is getting to be that time of year after all). We haven’t even met Steve in person yet, but we certainly appreciate his expertise and, we comment on the light every time we hunt for fabric without a flashlight.
When there are questions about history or someone is looking for a photograph from the early days in the Valley, Darris or Cathryn are always there to help. When our online story opened, Jan and Carmen quickly make dozens of beautiful Christmas ornaments, and scrubbies in a rainbow of colors. Cathryn crafts her priceless pine needle baskets, and Lynda cranks out jars of huckleberry jam (sorry but the jam has already sold out). Sally pieces fabric with her artist’s eye for color that the women quilt and then sell. And yes, those Friday quilters are remarkable, showing up every week in all sorts of weather from September to May, to stitch. We currently have eleven quilters which is very exciting – especially when you see the list of quilts waiting to be done!
Is it even possible to list all the things volunteers do to maintain the Historical Village, as well as when their efforts go beyong the valley? Through a grant from the Montana Historical Foundation, volunteers put together a history trunk filled with treasures about quilting that is lent to schools in Lincoln and Flathead Counties. Fabrics, notions, books, patterns, and ideas for teachers are a wonderful treasure that extends our work to younger people. People in New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Washington have over the years come to know the Historical Village and the quilters. We package items they order from our online store to send them. We appreciate hearing their questions about which quilts are for sale. And we always enjoy hearing from them with news from these far-flung places.
The list goes on. There is Bev who keeps the schoolhouse tidy as the quilters tend to have piles on every flat surface, and she manages the museum docents in the summer. There is Michelle who just began quilting on Fridays but already helps with the online store. People donate fabric and items for us to sell. Carmen’s husband, Al, sends treats to the quilters (quilting for five hours takes a lot of energy). Dianne maintains our membership list and leads the annual membership drive which we depend on. Renata makes delicious cakes when there happens to be a quilter’s birthday. And, of course, there are the docents who keep the museum open everyday in the summer.
But please don’t misunderstand! Even though there are so many great people helping, there are still things that need to be done. Old buildings need a lot of TLC – storm windows for the schoolhouse, new footing for the caboose, repairs to the boardwalk are on the To Do list. In the meantime though, be thankful for this wonderful piece of history in our town, the volunteers who maintain it, the donors and members who help us pay the bills. Stop by the schoolhouse any Friday to visit, to buy items from our Christmas bazaar, or to quilt with us. We look forward to seeing you.
And the women are back quilting every Friday at the Historical Village. Not only quilting on Fridays, but also busy making all sorts of lovely items for our online store. Baby quilts, pine needle baskets, catnip mice, scrubbies, potholders, art bags for children, tied quilts and so much more. You can see all of these on the online store here, or stop by the old schoolhouse in the Historical Village any Friday between 10am to 3pm to look over these items.
If you stop by, you not only get to see what is available for sale, but also can admire the two quilts we are currently working on. One is a sampler quilt made by Sally Steward and definitely showcases Sally’s abilities with putting together the perfect colors. The second quilt is one a local woman pieced quite a number of years ago and finally decided to have it hand quilted. It is interesting for those of us sewing on it because we are using black thread on a black background for part of it. Both are a joy to work on. Of course, we are always open to have more people sew. Don’t hesitate to stop by on a Friday to sew with us – novices and experts gladly welcomed.
In case you think it might be grueling to stitch from 10am through to 3pm, please know there is an awful lot more that goes on at the schoolhouse on Fridays. Often there are visitors dropping by to see the schoolhouse, or ask questions about the valley’s history. People also drop things off. Recently Jane Fox donated five Seattle Seahawks face masks for us to sell. Not only a treat to add these items to our store, but to visit with Jane. Some women who quilt bring in things they are working on. Renata and Jan always have lovely things to share with us. We call it ‘show and tell.’ Sally brings things she has made, as well as vegetables and fruit from her garden. Cathryn puts the coffee on around 11:30 (unless there is a call for it earlier). Sometimes we have homemade sweets someone brings for dessert. And all the quilters bring their own bag lunches every Friday which we eat promptly at noon.
So yes, there are enough distractions that no one seems to get tired of sewing and yet, a lot of sewing gets done every Friday. Hope you stop by one of these weeks to visit.
The seasons are shifting. Soon the Historical Village museum will close for the summer. Volunteers will cover the exhibits until next Spring when the museum opens again. But the museum closing for the winter months doesn’t mean there isn’t activity in the Historical Village. As you can imagine, there are plenty of things happening.
On Friday, September 3rd at 10am will be the Board meeting for the Tobacco Valley Board of History in the old schoolhouse. Please feel free to drop by to learn more about what we are doing and/or hear about ways you can help us maintain the Village.
Friday, September 10 from 10am to 3pm is when the quilters meet and will continue to get together every Friday through the winter to hand quilt. It is a wonderful group and open to new people whether you are an experienced quilter or just starting out wanting to learn more. Bring a bag lunch. We have needles and thimbles to loan and, of course, have the coffee pot on. This gathering takes place in the old schoolhouse.
With the museum in the Fewkes Store closing for the season, our online store will open up again. Quilts, pine needle baskets, books about the Tobacco Valley, scrubbies, paintings of the Historical Village and much more are available online. You can pay by credit card and then arrange to pick up your purchases or we can ship them to you if you live out of the area. Just go to our website https://tobaccovalleyhistory.org/ and click on ‘shop’. The online store will open on September 10.
A shout out to all the wonderful volunteers who helped this summer. Docents kept the museum open seven days a week throughout the summer under the superb supervision of Bev and Darris. Robin and his crew made repairs to make sure everything in the Historical Village was in working order. Alice gathered a wonderful group who replaced the screen cages in each of the buildings as well as painted the interior of the old schoolhouse. Thanks to everyone who put in time to keep this very special place in good condition and accessible to the public.
The weather is turning Montana Spring beautiful. The old schoolhouse isn’t as chilly in the mornings now when the women show up to quilt. We have been working on a couple quilts that will probably take us to the end of the season. Both lovely colors and fabrics, both mostly easy to sew, both require a fair amount of stitching. Outside of the schoolhouse, volunteers are starting to work on various projects. Building storm windows, replacing torn screens, rebuilding the back of the caboose, checking the boardwalk for boards that might need to be replaced before too many summer visitors show up.
Rendezvous Days will be coming up on April 24th so that is always an exciting time to be at the Historical Village. The buildings won’t be open this year but there will be many vendors set up, and live music across at Riverside Park. Of course if you ever need to check out what the quilters have available for sale, you can go to our online shop anytime or stop by on Fridays before the middle of May. The quilters will put their needles, thimbles and threads away for the summer then when the old schoolhouse resumes it appearance as part of the museum.
Lots to look forward to so be sure to mark your calendar. The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is all day on August 7th and Shakespeare in the Parks (this year’s play is Cymbeline) is the evening of August 19th.
It might seem like a middle-of-winter and not much is happening time but that is not true at all when it comes to the Historical Village. Despite the very cold temperatures we’ve been having lately in the Tobacco Valley, the women continue to meet every Friday to quilt from 10:00am – 3:00pm. And yes, if you want to join us either as an experienced quilter or as a novice, you are certainly welcome. It has been an interesting season for the quilts we worked on – four tied ones for the staff at Eureka Healthcare, a lovely burgundy and green one Sally pieced which sold to a woman in New York, two art quilts Rita put together for a project on the pandemic, and a beautiful one made with vintage fabrics Kathy Ingram brought in to have quilted.
Besides Friday quilting, members are also constantly adding things to our online store. We decided to keep it open at least until summer so if you are in the market for a baby quilt, books about the Tobacco Valley, bright potholders or scrubbies, hand embroidered tea towels or pillow cases, or even large quilts (either tied or hand stitched), check out our store online. Just go to the Tobacco Valley Board of History website.
And despite the cold temps and gray skies, we are thinking of Spring when more people begin passing through the Historical Village. Thanks to partial support from the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation, we purchased two new picnic tables that will be ready to replace a couple that have seen better days. And now volunteers are working to get storm windows for the old school house building. These will make it so much easier to keep the building warm next winter when the women are quilting. Special thanks to the EMQS Foundation for facilitating that project. And we have an awesome team of new volunteers who will help repair the ceiling in the old church, repair windows in the Baney House, and offered to help repair the boardwalk. Thanks to all of you who stepped up to keep the Historical Village in great shape. In May, it seems the quilters will be featured in a Backroads of Montana episode! This is a wonderful program on Montana PBS. We will certainly get the word out when we know the date and time.
If you want to be part of keeping our community’s heritage alive, don’t hesitate to attend our next board meeting on March 5 at 10:00am in the old school house. We can always use help with a wide range of tasks from social media, to archives, to fundraising.
Just enough going on that it made sense to let you know. First a loud ‘hurrah!!’ for selling our beautiful Piano Keys quilt online. This is the first time we attempted this sort of sale for one of our own quilts, but as we missed our winter fundraiser (The Wardens concert) and our May rummage sale, we needed to try something new. We announced the quilt for sale on Facebook to see if it would sell. And it did! It was an awesome experience as there was so much interest – not only in the Tobacco Valley but across the country. We are encouraged to try in again, perhaps once a year depending on our quilt production. Sincere thanks to everyone who showed enthusiasm, asked for photos, expressed interest and – to the fine person who bought it. The photo shows the women quilting during the winter. Quite the beauty – measured 100″ x 100″ when done. Very special thanks to Cathryn (pictured below) who finished quilting it after we stopped meeting as a group in March, and to Lynda who did all 400″ of binding on it.
And as we move into the summer season at the Historical Village, we are being cautious about keeping our community and our volunteers healthy and safe. We have currently postponed opening the museum, planning to announce dates in June. So please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful park down at the Historical Village. Please remember to leave it as tidy as you find it. Thanks.
It does seem the ideal time to think about trying new things. No doubt there are people out there who make New Year’s resolutions to learn a new language or take up skiing or make Cha Siu Bao (pork dumplings) and actually manage to do it. We can take this as a sign that it is never too late to learn a skill, to take a different path, to try something new. Many of our quilters are fine examples of this.
Recently we began to set up the next quilt we will be working on. We had carefully put together the frame and measured to be sure to center the fabric for the quilt back. Tacked the fabric all around and then realized the back had been pieced. There was a seam down the middle but it hadn’t been ironed flat. A detail we were determined to correct despite numerous sighs that this would require untacking the fabric in order to take it off to iron. Then Cathy and Lynda had the brainstorm to iron the backing while it was on the frame. Although some of us scoffed at this idea, they actually managed to do it and do it well.
Although we have been around long enough to realize that not everything is possible – there are quite a lot of things that are which are worth trying. As we begin 2020, we hope you consider trying something new to support your community and help yourself along the way. We all certainly have a lot of potential waiting to be put to good use.
January 3 10am at Historical Village – Board of History meeting. Public welcome
March 14 4pm at Lodgecraft Building (Eureka) The Wardens Concert!
Quilting every Friday 10am – 3pm at the old school house in the Historical Village.
All at once the summer finished up and today the museum at the Historical Village will close for winter. The quilters met last week at the old school house to begin their season. They set up the first quilt to work on, a lovely Dresden plate design that belongs to a woman in Oklahoma. After discussion about which pattern to use for quilting, we settled down to sew. We hadn’t met as a group since the middle of May so our needles and thimbles felt a bit rusty but in no time at all we were in the flow.
A woman in Rollins, MT won last year’s raffle quilt. A lovely lavender one pieced by Vivian Vanleishout and quilted by the women at the Historical Village. This year’s raffle quilt is one of my favorites. Each of the quilters made 2-4 unique blocks from various shades of blue and rose that Sally selected. After piecing them together, the fun began as each block needed to be quilted differently. Raffle tickets go on sale soon and then next August at the county fair, a lucky winner will be selected. It could be you (if you buy the right ticket). You are certainly welcome to stop by the old school any Friday between 10am – 3pm to see this special quilt.
As you put together your schedule for the upcoming season, you want to keep in mind a few important dates. On Wednesday, November 27, the Tobacco Valley Board of History will have a Pint Night at HA Brewery. A dollar for every beverage sold will be donated for maintenance of the Historical Village. Always a fun evening (this is our third annual!) with a huckleberry pie to raffle and great music. Be sure to come out to enjoy the evening with us.
On March 14, another great fundraiser is a concert in Eureka featuring The Wardens, an awesome Canadian band who performed here in 2018. Songs and stories of the backwoods, wildlife and life as a ‘government cowboy’ will fill the evening. The concert starts at 4pm; tickets available at the door. More details to follow.
And just in case you live in the Tobacco Valley and are interested in learning to hand quilt or volunteering, know we would be glad to see you. Stop by the school house in the Historical Village on Fridays when we are quilting to find what you might do.